India voices concern over China’s new land border law, says it can have implications on existing bilateral arrangements

New Delhi : India on Wednesday voiced concern over a new land border law passed by China, stating that Beijing’s unilateral decision to bring about the legislation could have implications on the existing bilateral arrangements on border management. It also stated that it expects China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law that could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas.

India also said that Beijing’s new law will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement: “We have noted that China has passed a new “Land Boundary Law” on 23 October 2021. The law states among other things that China abides by treaties concluded with or jointly acceded to by foreign countries on land boundary affairs. It also has provisions to carry out reorganisation of districts in the border areas.

“It may be noted that India and China have still not resolved the boundary question. Both sides have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution to the Boundary Question through consultations on an equal footing.

“We have also concluded several bilateral agreements, protocols and arrangements to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC in India-China border areas in the interim.”

“In this regard, China’s unilateral decision to bring about a legislation which can have implication on our existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question is of concern to us.

“Such unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the Boundary Question or for maintaining peace and tranquility along the LAC in India-China Border areas.

“We also expect that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas.”

He added that the passage of “this new law does not in our view confer any legitimacy to the so-called China Pakistan “Boundary Agreement” of 1963 which Government of India has consistently maintained is an illegal and invalid agreement.”

On October 23, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, passed a new land law for the “protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas” which will come into effect from January 1, state media Xinhua reported.

According to Xinhua, it states that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of…China are sacred and inviolable”, and asks the state to “take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines [these]”.

The state can take measures “to strengthen border defence, support economic and social development as well as opening-up in border areas, improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there, and promote coordination between border defence and social, economic development in border areas”.

The law in effect suggests a push to settle civilians in the border areas.

However, the law also asks the state to follow the principles of “equality, mutual trust, and friendly consultation, handle land border related-affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and longstanding border issues”, Xinhua said.